First, dim the lights, enjoy a moment of silence, then start this episode of WORLD OF DEATH. If you are a viewer of “a certain age,” enjoy the nostalgia rush of a classic leader run. If you’re a younger viewer, relax into the retro vibe. We’re taking a trip back to the golden age of the exploitative 1970’s, when guitars went “wakka wakka,” there was always a hair in the gate, and the blood of the innocent runs red.
There is a balance of “Style vs. Substance” in any film endeavor, and “Murder Springs: Chapter One” from Writer/Director Adam Van Dyke proudly and unabashedly is reveling in heaping helpings of stylistic goodness. There are leaders, and burns, missing scenes, and clear signs that this long-lost 70’s short’s master print hasn’t been treated at all well over the decades. Alright, it’s not actually set in the ‘70’s, but the anachronisms between the style of the edit and grading and the setting of the short synergize nicely to create an enveloping mood. Besides, our protagonists are certainly of an age to remember the 70’s well, and the mixture of classic styling with modern setting serves to set up a nostalgic feel of times long gone that obviously inform the psyches of our aging heroes. In other words, besides just looking cool – and the muted colors of faded film, dust and scratches, audio pops, registry errors and burns do look cool – the “Grindhouse” look is a subtle subtext, not only to the story, but to the motivations of the characters.
There’s a balance between humor and terror in the horror genre, and “Murder Springs” is also firmly on the humor side. It’s a black comedy which is somewhat thematically similar to (or perhaps a parody of) a certain 1996 David Cronenberg film, mixed with a tiny sprinkling of “The Toxic Avenger”. It works, and quite well. Cronenberg’s movie (which shall go unnamed here, so as to avoid spoilers for this WoD short) tackles the subject matter in a dark, disturbing and creepy manner, where “Murder Springs” heads down a similar road, but does so in such a fashion as to bring a near-innocent joy into the tragic events which unfold.
With some lovely camera work, stylish grading, solid performances, and some superb audio editing (there’s a great lo-fi feeling to the soundtrack, but every little sound was obviously chosen with much thought), this is a great looking and great sounding short. The performances and presentation come together to provide an entertaining slice of life and death. There are some chuckles. Some of you might give out a few groans. And, as always, someone’s gonna die.
– Michael M. Miller
World of Death is the web series that fans of independent horror have been waiting for. Featuring short horror films from all over the globe created by the largest variety of talent that a collection has ever been able to boast, WOD provides plenty of blood, guts, screams and laughs for all fans of the macabre. And with episodes averaging around eight minutes in length, WOD is the perfect entertainment for a fan base constantly on the go. Watch it anywhere, at any time, for FREE! New episodes premiere every Monday and Thursday at 10am CST.